Monthly Archives: November 2013

The Boys: Self-Preservation Society

boys6My research indicates that, having finished Volume 6 of  Ennis’ The Boys series, I am halfway done. (Also, that all of them are published, so that’s nice.) This particular volume is pretty much just going through the motions, with no real plot development to speak of.

Which, okay, it’s not an especially fair claim, but I can’t help being disappointed in a book which, when all is said and done, provides no real movement. Sure, the author has ticked off his “I’d better parody the Avengers” checklist, including the spectacularly over-the-top inclusion of a Nazi super-soldier as their leader.[1] And yes, it’s nice to get origin stories on the three supporting members of our titular band of ne’er-do-wells. (Except for how I found the Frenchie’s origin to be actively annoying. But I could be biased.) But that’s just not enough.

It’s strange to realize, I guess, that the most interesting story and character development occurred among the bad guys this time, is all.

[1] Probably I’d be less irritated if it hadn’t felt exactly like a tickbox instead of an actual event. Also, if it hadn’t seemed so nakedly steeped in shock-value. Also, if there had been consequences.

Thor: The Dark World

THURS_003B_G_ENG-GB_70x100.inddFirst things first, to get it out of the way. Yeah, I really liked this movie. There were disappointingly obvious problems with Newtonian physics, and there was, as far as I can recall, no more than one plot turn I didn’t see coming. Nevertheless? Loved it. I mean, to start with, I’ll watch an entire 120 minutes’ worth of Darcy reaction quips and consider it money well spent.

But aside from hammer gags, cool explosions, and Kat Dennings, there are solid reasons to like Thor: The Dark World. Probably the precipitating plot, in which Christopher Eccleston is more or less wasted behind too much makeup as an inexplicably albino Dark Elf who wants to return the universe to eternal darkness and who nearly kicked Odin’s father’s ass several thousand years ago during his first attempt, is not one of them? I’m not saying I dislike comic book plots, because I don’t, but it’s impossible to deny that this one is towards the fringier end of the form.

The broad, vague answer is that I liked the acting. It doesn’t hurt that I’ve been immersed in 1960s Thor comics for the past few months, but it was cool to watch Odin interacting with his two sons. Far more than that, though, this movie gave me something I didn’t realize I’d been missing in the annals of Marveldom[1]. I finally have a solid, bone-deep belief that Thor and Loki really are brothers. That’s going to help me later, when I’m still reading 1960s Thor comics and Loki is still a cartoonishly annoying villain instead of nuanced and clever.

Also, Natalie Portman was in it, I guess? In retrospect, I should probably have more to say about someone who got so much screen time.

[1] Except maybe the Loki book I read years ago now, before I’d barely gotten started on my in-depth project here? Who can remember what happened in 2007, though?

The Handmaid’s Tale

51qGjF8UHJL._SY344_BO1,204,203,200_Another month, another book club book. This time out, a horribly dystopian near-future examination of some religious dudes stealing everything from women. You know, to save them from how cruel the world can be. I must say, despite taking a while to get to a point where it was believable, The Handmaid’s Tale seemed utterly plausible from then on. Due to plummeting birthrates and the aforementioned (aforeimplied?) enslavement of functionally all females in the nation, our mostly-nameless heroine viewpoint character heroine has been enrolled as a Handmaid; which is to say that, Genesis-style, she acts as a stand-in for the wife of one of the high muckety-mucks of the fictional future nation of Gilead, so they may be fruitful and multiply. Keeping in mind the disdain these people have for fertility clinics (or, indeed, science), well, my point is to say, yes. That is every bit as horrible as you’re imagining it to be.

The rest of the story, with its leisurely revelations of the world Atwood has built[1] and its insistence on hitting the reader with one terrible event after another, is a surprisingly difficult slog. Well, if you’re looking at the size of the book it is, anyway. If you’re considering the emotional toll of the things I’ve mentioned and taking me at my word that I’ve left out five or ten reveals for every one that I’ve spoiled so far, well, it’s easy to see why the emotional density of the book makes for a slow, miserable read.

The worst part is, it was extremely good and I wanted to know what would happen. If only it had read as badly as it made me feel and I could have quit a few chapters in!

[1] She revealed things far more leisurely than I just have! In my defense, I’ve still only scratched the tip of the iceberg.